Archive for March, 2012

BREAKING UP WITH THE SIERRA CLUB

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Long-time friend and Orion columnist Sandra Steingraber has been particularly vocal about the dangers of fracking. Her columns in recent issues of the magazine have frequently been dedicated to the issue; and last year, after receiving a Heinz Award for her work, Steingraber donated the cash prize to the fight against fracking in her home state of New York.

In February, Time magazine broke the news that the Sierra Club, an old and respected environmental defender, had, for three years, accepted $25 million from Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest gas-drillers in the world. (In 2010, Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s new executive director, refused further donations from the company.) The story prompted Steingraber to write an open letter to the Club, posted below. We invite you to read the letter, which testifies to the confusion, fear, and outrage that’s pouring out of communities in gasland—but which is also, importantly, a bold call to courage.
Read full article here

Free, Prior and Informed Consent in REDD+

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

To read REDD-MONITOR article Click Here

World’s first restorative justice sentencing for Ecocide crime – don’t miss it! and please help spread the word

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

This Saturday will see a world-first event, bringing a corporate CEO face to face with the victims of their crimes against the Earth through restorative justice.

The two fictional CEOs Robin Bannerman and John Tench who were found guilty of committing Ecocide last year in the UK Supreme Court will be sentenced, in a process involving top experts including Lawrence Kershen QC, chair of the Restorative Justice Council.

You can also watch the event online from wherever you are on:Ecoside’s livestream.

Can you help us spread the message about what’s happening?

Please forward this email to a friend and share via Facebook and Twitter (with the hashtags #Ecocide #Sentencing).
Please contact any journalists you know who may be interested and help spread the message through the media. There will be a live press conference via video link at the end of the day for journalists anywhere in the world.

How a Mountain Dies

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Almost four years ago, when I moved here, in the glory of summer, all I could see was ridge line after ridge line, in every shade of green, outlined by a blue sky filled with puffy clouds. The river ran clear and the air was full of promise.

Once a backwater in the environmental struggle, this river, the Coal River, was now ground zero in the most important fight in all of Appalachia’s history. It is a fight for history itself, a fight to preserve the future, a fight for survival……
To read full articleClick Here

Three Indigenous Nations in Altamira area, Para, signed REDD contracts with an untrustworthy individual, Benedito Millleo Junior, representative fromTopoGeo.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer

I was in the city of Altamira, the Amazon area in the state of Para, preparing to leave the next day. It was with a knot in my throat when I promised the young chief of one of the three indigenous nations in this area that had signed REDD contracts, not to reveal their identity.

For years I have tried to inform indigenous peoples about the lies and wrongs that one day soon they will be told in order to obtain their consent for REDD projects on their indigenous territory.

But it is indeed a very abstract issue, and unfortunately, my explanation had no effect on this particular young chief, and other young leaders that were standing in a circle around me, with their REDD contract signed, in their hand, in June 2011.

They were worried, thus the reason why they approached me with the contract. They trusted me enough to allow me to photograph it. (To view the original contract in Portuguese with the names that could identify the indigenous nation removed CLICK HERE)

The young leaders wanted to know what the contract actually said, as they admitted, it wasn’t exactly clear to them.

The first thing that I spotted was that the contract was signed by an individual and not by a company. Benedito Milleo Junior.

The chief showed me Benedito Milleo Junior’s business card.
Business card from carbon cowboy "Benedito Millleo Junior", TopoGeo (Photo © Rebecca Sommer) [TopoGeo | Surveying and Geo-referenced GIS | Annotation Legal Reserve IBAMA and IAP | Accredited at INCRA under Code APO | Benedito Milleo Junior | Agronomist | Federal Judicial Expert | CREA 13.062/D-PR]

I asked the young leaders why they thought he had signed as an individual, while they had to sign with their positions, under their Indigenous Association.

They did not know why.

I ask them if they knew this (sinister) gentlemen, and asked about the location of his companies’ office.

“He lives in a rather shabby house in Altamira, with no sign or logo of his company. We wondered about that. But he promised to pay us a lot of the money in June 2012.” said the young chief.

However, when we went to the location, the neighbors informed us that the carbon cowboy and his assistant had vacated the house, and that we were not the first ones to look for them.

The neighbors said many small landowners would come every day, with the goal to sign “the contract that would make them rich”. Further, during the time Mr. Benedito Milleo Junior from TopoGeo had resided next door, hundreds of contracts had been signed in the region, and sometimes there had been a line of waiting folks, in front of Benedito Juniors’ house, that was in a shabby condition, with paint peeling off of it.

The second issue I raised with the indigenous young leaders was the language of the contract, the way it was actually written. I told them that Portuguese is not my mother language, but the text was confusing, without comas and proper punctuation, in my view leaving some sentences seriously unclear.

I told them that I am not a lawyer, but that in my view important parts have been left out in the contract, such as who will pay whom. I couldn’t find clear articulation who would pay them. This articulation was left out by Mr. Benedito Milleo Junior.

However, what was not left out in the contract was that the indigenous nation was charged for all the costs. Including the costs of the project and the costs that the broker, Mr. Junior himself would incur. Do these costs include promotion of the sale of carbon credits, his office expenses, travel costs, gasoline, utilities website administration and whatnot?

I asked them to imagine what he could charge them for, as this wasn’t clarified in the contract.

“We don’t know, he didn’t say,” responded the young chief, while the others were looking down, poking their toes in the sand.

I told them that in my view this man is a criminal, and that they will not only not receive any payments, but also won’t be able to trace the carbon credits sold on behalf of their forest.

I explained to them the problems of REDD, the lies and wrongs, but to no effect.

“We wait for June 2012, and hope he will pay,” they said. “And please, stick to your promise and don’t reveal our identity.”

I wasn’t able to meet the Elders and the traditional chief of this indigenous nation, to which I had the year before explained the problems with REDD, with not only the young chiefs present, but that of the entire community. Yet I firmly believe that I know what the Elders and old chief would have told me.

I have attempted to translate the contract from Portuguese to English as accurately as possible. It is as follows:(download original here)

PRIVATE CONTRACT TO PROVIDE PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL SERVICES AND PARTNERSHIP FOR CARBON CREDIT AND AVOIDED DEFORESTATION

For this particular instrument of RENDERED PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL SERVICES, that makes one side the prominent CONTRACTOR: BENEDITO MILLEO JUNIOR, Brazilian citizen, married, agronomist, holder of identity card RG. No1.494.076-6-SSP-PR and CPF / MF. under the 320838409-25, resident Marechal Candido Rondon Street No 911, center, GUAIRA-PR.,
On the other hand the prospective Contracted: INDIGENOUS ASSOCIATION XXXXXX, Civil Society, CNPJ XXXX XXXXXX Location In the municipality of Rio XXX ALTAMIRA, to the State. THE AREA WITH A TOTAL OF XXXX HECTARES, THE INDIGENOUS LAND XXXX, Located in the municipality of ALTMAIRA, state PARA.
1) THE CONTRACTOR AND THE CONTRACTED will receive on both sides the importance of 50% (FIFTY PERCENT) FOR EACH OF CARBON CREDITS SOLD IN THE Stock Exchange OF CHICAGO – U.S. and or STOCK EXCHANGE LONDON – ENGLAND, NATIONAL BANKS OR INTERNATIONAL BANKS or anyone interested in Buying, AND THE COSTS ON BEHALF OF THE PROJECT AND PLACEMENT FOR SALE IS ON ACCOUNT OF THE CONTRACTEE, AND THE PROJECT OF CARBON CREDIT and avoided deforestation, the OWNER agrees to not deforest THE AREA OF THE PROJECT BEING THE TOTAL OF NATIVE FOREST DETERMINED IN THE UPDATED SATELITE PICTURE OF THE ABOVE CITED PROPERTY, GEOREFERENCED ACCORDING TO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS, ON BEHALF OF CONTRACTEE THE AMOUNT OF RS 4,000,000.00 (Four million dollars) paid WHEN RECEIVING THE 1rst part of the payment of Carbon Credit and Avoided Deforestation. The contracted shall pay 10% (ten percent) INCOME TAX and 10 (ten percent) BROKERS COMMISSION FOR THE SALE OF CARBON CREDITS. FOR THE PERIOD OF 25 (TWENTY FIVE) YEARS. THEIR SUCCESSORS SHALL COMPLY WITH THIS AGREEMENT, IF THE TERM IS EXTENDED BY 40 (FORTY YEARS) OR HIGHER THIS CONTRACTS DEADLINE EXTENDED
2) Therefore we are under contract, having signed this particular instrument in two identical copies and form
ALTAMIRA – PA, JUNE 28, 2011

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CONTRACTOR – JUNIOR BENEDITO MILLEO

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PRESIDENT OF THE INDIGENOUS XXXX

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VICE PRESIDENT OF THE INDIGENOUS XXXX

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VICE PRESIDENT OF THE INDIGENOUS XXXX

Río+20: Todas las instancias internacionales vinculadas a los derechos de los pueblos indígenas deben pronunciarse

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Comunicaciones CAOI

Fortalecimiento de la cultura, ejercicio pleno de derechos, autodeterminación y respeto a nuestros territorios, son componentes vitales del desarrollo sostenible.

Nueva York, marzo 26.- El derecho a la autodeterminación, que se materializa en la gestión social, política, económica, ambiental y cultural de nuestros territorios, debe estar incorporado en todos los programas del desarrollo sostenible, como un aporte de los pueblos indígenas para alcanzar el Buen Vivir/Vivir Bien. Este es uno de los puntos centrales del documento alcanzado hoy al Grupo Mayor de los Pueblos Indígenas y organizaciones de la sociedad civil que participan en la Primera Ronda de Negociaciones del Borrador Cero.

Al explicar el contenido del documento, entregado por las organizaciones indígenas presentes en la ronda de negociación, Miguel Palacín Quispe, Coordinador General de la Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI), insistió en la necesidad de que el movimiento indígena, a través de sus espacios de participación en las instancias internacionales, se pronuncie acerca del Borrador Cero de El futuro que deseamos, documento que será aprobado por los Estados en la Conferencia Mundial de Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Río+20, que se reunirá en junio próximo.

“El Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas, el Relator Especial de la ONU, el Consejo Consultivo de los Pueblos Indígenas en la Comunidad Andina, entre otros, deben pronunciarse para que nuestros derechos sean parte integral de todos los acuerdos que se adopten en Río+20”, subrayó Miguel Palacín.

Recordó que en las conferencias internacionales solo los Estados dialogan y llegan a acuerdos, bajo la presión de los países industrializados, para aprobar finalmente textos generales que eluden temas vitales como los derechos humanos y colectivos, la conservación de la biodiversidad, la garantía de los territorios indígenas, la prohibición de actividades extractivas en cabeceras de cuenca, glaciares y zonas vulnerables, entre otros.

Advirtió, incluso, que los países industrializados están presionando para que el Derecho Humano al Agua, reconocido por la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, sea excluido del Borrador Cero.

Contribuciones indígenas

El documento entregado hoy se titula Las contribuciones de los pueblos indígenas al desarrollo sostenible: caminando hacia el futuro siguiendo las huellas de nuestros antepasados. Contiene tres puntos esenciales: el fortalecimiento de la cultura como el cuarto pilar del desarrollo sostenible, el ejercicio pleno de nuestros derechos humanos y colectivos, y el fortalecimiento de diversas economías locales y la ordenación territorial.

En el primer punto destaca que la diversidad de la naturaleza está íntimamente vinculada a la diversidad cultural y que las políticas tradicionales de los pueblos indígenas, consagradas en el Buen Vivir, son un ejemplo de la vida en equilibrio con la Madre Tierra. En el segundo, enfatiza que el desarrollo humano sostenible significa la incorporación de la perspectiva de los derechos humanos y colectivos en la elaboración, diseño y discusión y aprobación de todos los programas, planes y proyectos en materia de desarrollo sostenible en todos los niveles. En el tercer punto, señala que la solidaridad comunitaria es un componente vital de la resilencia de los ecosistemas.

“Vamos a seguir defendiendo nuestras economías, nuestros derechos a las tierras, territorios y bienes naturales, la gestión comunitaria y la biodiversidad, contra las actividades extractivas, las inversiones depredadoras, el acaparamiento de tierras y el desarrollo insostenible”, afirma el documento, que concluye demandando a los gobiernos “respetar y apoyar nuestros esfuerzos”.

BRAZIL: MUNDURUKU CHIEF CLARIFIES REDD CONTRACT FARSE with Celestial Green Ventures

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer

It created waves of headlines around the world when the Munduruku, an indigenous nation of approximately 13000 living in the state Para, Brazil, signed a carbon credit sales contract (REDD) with Celestial Green Ventures.

Munduruku protesting against the dam (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Munduruku protest against dam (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

But it wasn’t the community, that signed the contract.

I uncovered this fact during my 2 1/2 month visit in the  state Para where I was investigating the Belo Monte dam issue and the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples that would be directly impacted. (Also the Munduruka are trying to combat a dam in their area).

Upon hearing the announcement that they had signed a REDD contract, I called a human rights and climate justice colleague Marquinho Mora from the organization Faor. He informed that the Munduruku community was indeed very confused about the news that a contract was signed.

Interestingly, at the same time I was able to get my hands on 3 REDD contracts signed by three indigenous nations in the “Belo Monte” Altamira area with a criminal individual, by the name Benedito Milenio Junior.

Yet, Benedito had not signed the contract on behalf of his company, he signed as an individual, with no references to the company TopoGeo, that he claimed to the indigenous chiefs he would represent. To read more about this click article here.

Back to the Mundurukus’ REDD tale…

One of the chiefs, Osmarino Manhoari Munduruku, who lives in one of the 120 Munduruku villages, explained that it all began when the foreign cooperation Celestial Green Ventures approached them with a REDD project and contract at a meeting held in Jacareacanga City Hall in August 2011.

Chief Osmarino stated that councilors of the municipality and representatives of the FUNAI (Brazil’s governmental bureau of Indigenous Affairs) were present. Most of the Munduruku were against the concept of the project, and therefore the Munduruku agreed not to sign the contract.

Chief Osmarino recalls, that the “Munduruku warriors almost beat the company’s representatives”.

Celestial Green Ventures informed everyone present at the meeting, that two other indigenous nations had signed a similar contract with them. If this is true, I wasn’t able to find out which ones.

What happened next is the tragic reality of so many REDD contracts that have been signed by indigenous individuals who are not recognized leaders of the people they claim to represent.

Chief Osmarino explained that after the REDD meeting, twelve individuals; Munduruku that were not chiefs nor in any other representational position, non-indigenous advisors, councilors of the municipality and representatives of the cooperation, continued a closed, secretly held meeting in a hotel, where the contract was signed.

“The chiefs were against the company’s carbon credit sales contract proposal, but some indigenous and others, such as councilors of the municipality, signed the contract” explained chief Osmarino. “We did not know it, we learned that the contract was signed through the internet” he added.

“The contract was in sane, we couldn’t believe it when we finally saw it ” said Marquinho Mota, from Brazilian NGO FAOR. “The contract that was signed by a few individuals, and governmental authorities, without the free, prior, informed consent of the Munduruku community, granting the company Celestrial Green Ventures rights to the absolute unhindered, unrestricted use of their indigenous land for 30 years.” Marquinho added.

Munduruku_Photo © Rebecca Sommer

Munduruku_Photo © Rebecca Sommer

“In my opinion, this REDD project is bad because over the next 30 years we are according to the contract not allowed to hunt and gather, or to plant food, to fish, to remove fruits from the forest, or cutting wood when we need it,” said Chief Osmarino to Humanitarian Institute Unisinos in an interview.

The company Celestial Green Ventures offered the Munduruku a payment of 120 Million US Dollar for the REDD project. Yet it is not clear if payments have been made, and to whom, if at all.

Chief Osmarino Munduruku informed that the Indigenous Association Pusuru (Associação Indígena Pusuru) is assumed to receive the payment, but that no information has been provided to the Munduruku chiefs, if this transition did in fact, already take place.

On REDD-monitors website (which I highly recommend), investigative journalist Chris Lang states that ”In June 2011, Celestial Green Ventures sold one million uncertified, voluntary carbon credits to a London-based company called Industry RE. But the relationship between these two companies seems to go back to 2009, according to Industry RE’s website:

“In 2009 Industry Re partnered with Celestial Green as they entered into their first REDD project. This entailed the purchase of a majority share holding (97%) in a Brazilian company – Capital First Management Bank Ltda, who own 10,000 hectares of tropical rainforest in the state of Rondonia, Brazil. CFMB also had a mining licence for the gold mining on 4,300 hectares of this pristine area of land. By purchasing this company, Celestial Green have let the mining licence lapse and intend to preserve this ecologically delicate area through obtaining carbon credits under the REDD guidelines.”

To read the full article from Chris Lang CLICK HERE

“Recently, at our Munduruku assembly we decided that we want to cancel the contract. If money was deposited, we want that it is returned to the company.” said Chief Osmarino.

Excerpts from this contract have been published in Portuguese by the Humanitarian Institute Unisinos, I have attempted to translate it as accurate as possible:

First paragraph: This contract gives the company the right to perform all analyzes and technical studies, including unrestricted access to the entire area to its agents and representatives, for the purpose of collecting data, in order to obtain maximum validation of the forests carbon credits.

Second paragraph: This agreement aims to create conditions for the company Celestrial Green Ventures to proceed with the use of studies and available methodologies to get international validation carbon credits for a period of 30 years.

Third paragraph: The documents provided in Annex I give the company all rights to the carbon credits obtained by any methodology, including all rights to the benefits that will be obtained from the biodiversity of this area during the contract period.

Fourth paragraph: The owner (the Munduruku) agrees to provide the company with all permits and required documents (records, state and local permits, approval of licenses) for the company to carry out its activities in the project area.

Paragraph fifth: If carbon credits, for whatever reason, are unattainable from this property, then this contract will be null and void.”

Chief Osmarino informed that the contract also says that “the owner agrees not to perform any activity or changes in land-use, that may somehow negatively affect the design of carbon credits. The owner undertakes to maintain the property according to the methodology established by the company.”

“The owner agrees to comply with all local, federal and state laws in relation to the contract area.”

“Without the prior written consent of the company, the owner agrees not to carry out any works in the contract area, or to undertake any other activity that might affect the amount of captured carbon, or to contribute in some way, to negatively affect the image of the company and its project.”

“For the execution of works that the owner wishes to make in the contract area, it should present them to the company in writing. “

“Without the authorization of the company, the owner agrees not to undertake any invervention in the project area, such as the construction of buildings, cutting, logging, fires, dam construction, mining, agriculture, tourism, road construction or other activities that may have negative effects on the methodology used by the company for the validation of the project.”

“The owner is forbidden to sell, transfer or donate all or part of the land to third parties without the prior consent of the company.“

A committee of Munduruku have made the decision to deliver a report to the Brazilian Government outlining the circumstances behind this most recent manipulation and exploitation of Indigenous Peoples.

“We want the contract to be canceled.” said Chief Osmarino Manhoari Munduruku.

While in many countries these corrupt, illegal manoeuvrings of contract signing take place with Indigenous peoples, often pushed for by ruthless NGOs. (see an example VIDEO CLICK HERE), the Munduruku are actually lucky.

Brazils’ governmental branch dealing with indigenous peoples, FUNAI recently announced that over 30 contracts that have been signed or negotiated between indigenous peoples and companies are nullified and illegal.

To read more about the FUNAI announcement CLICK HERE

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Os indígenas Munduruku e a venda de créditos de carbono. Entrevista especial com Osmarino Manhoari Munduruku

Monday, March 26th, 2012

“Os caciques eram contra a proposta da empresa, mas alguns indígenas e outros vereadores do município assinaram o contrato”, esclarece o cacique Osmarino Manhoari Munduruku.

Lea a entrevista

Firmar la petición aquí : Derechos en riesgo en Naciones Unidas

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Firmar la petición aquí

sign on letter: Human Right to Water Threatened at the United Nations

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Anil Naidoo, writing from New York on the eve of the Third Intersessional Meeting of the UNCSD
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An Urgent Call to Action : There is now a sign on letter to the United Nations Secretary General circulating, please sign it

Today in New York, UN Member States are moving from the informal discussions of the past week to the more formal negotiations which take place over the next two days.

Over the past week we have seen a major number of amendments to the original Zero Draft document and these will now be negotiated with the goal of achieving a consensus on a Rio+20 Outcomes document.

The whole human rights framework is under direct attack through this process, with a few states calling for deletion or ‘bracketing’ of all safeguards and protections within this document. Combined with the clear and dangerous neo-liberal framework of the ‘Green Economy’, removing human rights and other safeguards will have profound implications for the future.

In particular, if we see the Human Right to Water and Sanitation removed from this Rio document, it will effectively end any substantial movement at the UN on this critical right.

We cannot allow this to happen and there is still time to act!

Groups here in New York are mobilizing and beginning to be more effective at voicing our concerns.

There is now a sign on letter to the United Nations Secretary General circulating, please sign it

We now have over 400 organizations who have signed the letter supporting the human right to water and sanitation, the Council of Canadians will circulate that again to the UN missions by fax and invite you to continue to pressure the states which are attacking this right.

Again, this is Canada, the US, Israel who are requesting deletion of the right, along with New Zealand the Republic of Korea who are proposing non-binding language and supported by the UK and Denmark who are working within the EU.

Any and all pressure that can be brought to bear on these states is important!

I am pleased to say that the G77, particularly the ALBA countries, remain strong for the right and that Switzerland has made a strong intervention supporting the right. I am also happy to report that Japan has taken a very strong position against water pricing and full cost recovery.

Countries which have put forward proposals on pricing and full cost recovery include the EU, Turkey, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Please note that it is not looked upon well to name governments directly during negotiations, but I am taking this step because I do not think that only the groups here at the UN have a stake in this process and that the decisions should be transparent as they affect us all!

I cannot stress enough the need to get engaged in this process. This is not simply an environmental agreement with some interesting discussions, this is an attempt to mandate the way that we interact with nature by ensuring it is done through market and financial mechanisms which will guarantee access to capital and deny access to those without. The removal of the human right to water and all safeguards are related to this agenda because they are seen as a barrier to further commodification and financialization!

This week we have shown that we can have an impact when we work together!

Making the EU back down from deletion of the human right to water and sanitation, claiming it was a mistake by the secretariat, is a major step forward, but will only be a victory if we can press these other governments to do the same.

Right now, the big danger is that member states that are supportive do not stand firm and accept a generalized paragraph on human rights which would not be acceptable. I am hearing that this could be what the EU proposes as a compromise but this would be not much different from complete deletion because human rights are very specific and especially the human right to water and sanitation which is also the most newly recognized human right.

Again, if direct references to specific human rights are removed from this text, water will not stand a chance in moving forward towards implementation because opposed states will claim that there is no consensus, which then means that it is effectively a dead issue. We must not allow this to happen!

If we apply concerted pressure, I think we will be successful, especially since all NGO’s down here are now referencing the human right to water and it has become a rally point, at least in speeches. We need to turn that into further action and use it to point out the deeper dangers in these negotiations. We need to look for allies past our traditional groups and work with them. I am very pleased that we have secured strong statements from the Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque (see here)

These negotiations will not conclude in the next 2 days, but what happens over the next 2 days will set the direction of the next months as we move towards the next negotiations in one month and ultimately towards Rio.

If we can build some momentum and continue to advocate, I am convinced we will have a positive impact.